How does learning about a candidate's views opinions impact people's votes? In this Education World WebQuest, students research candidates and issues to answer the question "Which candidate would you vote for?" During a weekly classroom "press conference," students share what they learn and debate the issues as the election season rolls on. Students can educate their parents by researching important issues and creating a fact sheet to send home. Included: Students vote at the start and end of this WebQuest. Did the knowledge they gained change their votes?
This election WebQuest from Education World asks the question, Which candidate would you vote for? The WebQuest is designed to familiarize students with the candidates and issues that are central to the coming election. The directions refer to the presidential candidates, but this WebQuest can be adapted for use with local election campaigns too. You could also have different groups of students follow different election races.
If students do not have Internet access, magazines, newspapers, and other news sources can replace the Web resources listed with each activity. Then, of course, the activities are no longer a WebQuest, but the students are learning nonetheless.
A huge part of campaigns is the press conference. Each week, transform one class session into a "press conference." Students can share information with the rest of the class and gain experience presenting to a group. The activities below include ideas for the press conferences. Groups can present new information, provide updates, explain issues, and debate topics. Have different students be the press conference presenters each week. Following each presentation, allow questioning by the "press corps" (the other class members) about the information.
The Learn About the Candidates WebQuest activity sheet offers students a choice of three activities. Ask each student to choose one activity. Form groups of three to five students with interest in the same activity. Each group must include representatives from both candidate camps. Online resources are included to help students complete the activities. Learning about the candidates will help them make a wise choice on Election Day when they are asked, Which candidate would you vote for?
Following are brief descriptions of the three activity choices:
This Is Your Life!
Students learn as much as possible about the life and background of the candidate they have chosen. Students create a biography of at least 12 pages that highlights important events in the life of the candidate. The biography should include a variety of photographs. Ask students to leave two unfinished pages for each week that remains in the campaign. The students will write a weekly update about the candidate and share it during the weekly press conference.
On the Trail!
Students use daily news updates to track the travels of the candidate they have chosen. The students record in a journal each stop on the campaign trail and include details about events on those stops. Then students create a weekly time line to share at the weekly press conference. Using pushpins (a different color for each candidate), students mark on a wall map where the candidate has been.
A Funny Thing Happened!
Students create a scrapbook of campaign-related editorial cartoons collected from online and print sources. Ask the students to paste each cartoon onto a separate scrapbook page and write a brief paragraph on the page to explain the point being made by the editorial cartoonist. Students in the group will vote for the best cartoon of the week and share and discuss their choices at the weekly press conference. The What Are the Issues? WebQuest activity sheet provides students the opportunity to prepare fact sheets presenting the candidates' positions on important issues. Invite each member of the group representing each candidate to select an issue (or assign issues) in the current campaign -- for example, education, Medicare, Social Security, gun control, the death penalty, the minimum wage, or tobacco.
Each issue should have a representative from each candidate camp. Challenge each student to use online resources (see below) and media reports to explore his or her assigned candidate's stand on the issue. Students complete the activity sheet, presenting the candidates' views side by side. During the weekly press conferences, each student can present his or her candidate's position on an issue and debate the representative of the candidate's opponent. Compile and photocopy the fact sheets and send them home so students can share them with parents. Thus, students will play a direct role in helping build an informed electorate! Possible online resources for this activity include the following:
Since many of this years elections are state-focused, you will want to use local news sources as your featured resources. For the bigger picture, these sites present national election news:
Of course, every national news Web site covers the elections. For our reviews of the national news Web sites and how useful the are in the classroom, click on any of these links: HuffingtonPost.com, GoogleNews.com, CNN.com, AOL.com, MSN.com, FoxNews.com and Yahoo.com.
On Election Day, hold another secret vote, asking which candidate each student would vote for now. Compare the results with those from the vote taken in the "Before You Begin" section. Brainstorm a new list of the criteria students used in making their choices, and compare the list with the earlier one. Discuss why voters should know the candidates' positions on issues before they vote.
Lois Lewis, Linda Starr, Gary Hopkins
Copyright © 2010 Education World
Last updated 06/18/2011